GALLERY: Go Behind The Scenes On Our Renault 5 Turbo Tour de Corse Film Shoot
For Jean-Francois Cauchi, the first time he locked eyes with this special Renault became a deeply ingrained memory, a driving force that would shape his life from that moment onward. Despite being just a boy many years away from driving any sort of hatchback, let alone one this severely cool, his passion for the Renault 5 Turbo surpassed all of the typical supercar choices that other car-infatuated kids might tack on to their bedroom walls. During school hours, Jean-Francois obsessed over the mid-engine, rear-drive Renault, inhaling every bit of literature he could, while stashing cut-away drawings in his desk between sheafs of homework. He vowed to own one. One day.
His means toward a rally-spec R5 of his own involved a good deal of work to attain a base car—a standard Renault 5 Turbo—which he gradually acquired correct, authentic parts for in order to get it closer to that holy “Cévennes” style of the Group 4 spec factory cars. Of course, it wasn’t an exact one to one replica, but he always stayed within the ethos of the Renault Sport design philosophy of light, purposeful engineering, and ensured that his parts were the real deal.
Jean-Francois bought and sold Renaults among many other marques throughout the early years of his life as a motoring enthusiast—enjoying extended dalliances with a few of them—but he kept returning to the R5 Turbo, until one day he was afforded the opportunity to buy a Tour de Corse R5, #11 of just 20 produced in-period specifically for the factory team and certain so-called “competition-clients” for use in the legendary Group B days of the WRC.
The R5 Turbo had been homologated for use in rallying by 1980, though it was initially conceived in the mid 1970s, and raced in the less-restrictive prototype-oriented Group 5 class before the 400 units required for Group 4 entry were completed. In 1982, the announcement of the new Group B class was made, which would come into effect for the 1983 season. While Lancia was still more than making do with two drive wheels, the writing was on the wall for the predominance of all-wheel machines like the Audi Sport Quattros and the Peugeot 205 that would join the fray in 1984. Cars like the R5 Turbo Tour de Corse were still viable solutions for the tarmac-based events in the season, and before it was replaced by the final “Maxi” version, the R5 Tour de Corse would place a very respectable 3rd in the race it was named after.
Jean-Francois’ Tour de Corse was sold to a customer team rather than raced by the factory, and while it had seen its share of use, it didn’t suffer nearly as much as the Renault-entered cars during the 1980s. It came with all of its original parts for starters, and though he has his fun with it, Jean-Francois is also humbled by the experience of driving such a purpose-built machine as this. It can still bite, after all these years.